Mainstream news outlets are already starting to use the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is going on in some areas of our world right now. For many Americans this may seem a bit strange, but the truth is that the worldwide economic slowdown that began during the second half of last year is starting to get a lot worse. In this article, we are going to examine evidence of this from South America, Europe, Asia and North America. Once we are done, it should be obvious that there is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about the direction of the global economy right now. The warnings of so many prominent experts are now becoming a reality, and what we have witnessed so far are just the early chapters of a crushing economic crisis that will affect every man, woman and child in the entire world.
Let’s start with Brazil. It has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet, and it is already enduring its worst recession in 25 years. In fact, at the end of last year Goldman Sachs said that what was going on down there was actually a “depression“.
But now the crisis in Brazil has escalated significantly.
I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article entitled “Brazil: Economic collapse worse than feared“. I know, that title sounds like it comes directly from The Economic Collapse Blog, but I didn’t write it.
It actually comes from CNN…
Amid political chaos, Brazil’s economic collapse is worse than its government once believed.
In the midst of rising calls to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s central bank announced Thursday that it now expects the country’s economy to shrink 3.5% this year.
That’s worse than the central bank’s previous estimate for a 1.9% contraction. The darker forecast matches what the International Monetary Fund projected for Brazil — Latin America’s largest country — and what many independent economists have suspected.
It is one thing for Michael Snyder to tell you that Brazil is in the midst of “economic collapse”, but it is another thing entirely for CNN to say it.
And of course I have been warning about the crisis down in Brazil for quite some time now. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “The Economic Collapse Of South America Is Well Underway“.
Meanwhile, things are actually much worse in Venezuela than they are in Brazil. Food and basic supplies are in short supply, the inflation rate has hit 720 percent, and crime is completely out of control.
The following is from an article in the Independent entitled “Venezuela is on the brink of complete economic collapse“…
The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.
The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever.
Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.
Once again we see a very respected mainstream publication using the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is happening in South America.
You can find some stunning video of the “economic Armageddon” that is taking place in Venezuela right here. I would encourage you to watch that video, because what is happening down there will eventually be happening here.
Meanwhile, over in Europe the collapse of the Italian banking system has entered a disturbing new chapter. Italy’s finance minister has called a meeting in Rome for Monday that will be focusing on a “last resort” bailout plan for the troubled banks…
Finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan has called a meeting in Rome on Monday with executives from Italy’s largest financial institutions to agree final details of a “last resort” bailout plan.
Yet on the eve of that gathering, concerns remain as to whether the plan will be sufficient to ringfence the weakest of Italy’s large banks, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, from contagion, according to people involved in the talks.
Italian bank shares have lost almost half their value so far this year amid investor worries over a €360bn pile of non-performing loans — equivalent to about a fifth of GDP. Lenders’ profitability has been hit by a crippling three-year recession.
As Italy descends into financial chaos, the rest of the continent better be paying attention.
Do you remember how hard it was for the rest of Europe to rescue Greece?
Well, Greece has the 44th largest economy on the planet.
Italy has the 8th.
It would be hard to overstate the seriousness of what is going on over in Europe, and it is not just Italy we are talking about. All over the continent major banks are in deep trouble, and the chairman of France’s second largest retail bank recently told reporters that “I am much more worried than I was in 2009“.
And there is very good reason for concern. On Sunday, we learned that a major “bail-in” had just been announced for one of Austria’s most prominent banks. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
And then today, following a decision by the Austrian Banking Regulator, the Finanzmarktaufsicht or Financial Market Authority, Austria officially became the first European country to use a new law under the framework imposed by Bank the European Recovery and Resolution Directive to share losses of a failed bank with senior creditors as it slashed the value of debt owed by Heta Asset Resolution AG.
The highlights from the announcement:
Today, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) in its function as the resolution authority pursuant to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Act (BaSAG – Bundesgesetz über die Sanierung und Abwicklung von Banken) has issued the key features for the further steps for the resolution of HETA ASSET RESOLUTION AG. The most significant measures are:
- a 100% bail-in for all subordinated liabilities,
- a 53.98% bail-in, resulting in a 46.02% quota, for all eligible preferential liabilities,
- the cancellation of all interest payments from 01.03.2015, when HETA was placed into resolution pursuant to BaSAG,
- as well as a harmonisation of the maturities of all eligible liabilities to 31.12.2023.
According to the current resolution plan for HETA, the wind-down process should be concluded by 2020, although the repayment of all claims as well as the legally binding conclusion of all currently outstanding legal disputes will realistically only be concluded by the end of 2023. Only at that point will it be possible to finally distribute the assets and to liquidate the company.
The dominoes are starting to fall in Europe, and I would expect even bigger announcements in the weeks and months to come.
Over in Asia, economic chaos is beginning to prevail as well.
In China, the stock market is already down more than 40 percent from the peak, Chinese exports were down 25.4 percent on a year over year basis in February, and Chinese economic numbers overall have not been this poor since the depths of the last global recession.
At the same time, the Japanese economy is really struggling right now. As I wrote about the other day, Japanese GDP has shrunk for two out of the last three quarters, we just saw Japanese industrial production experience the biggest one month decline that we have witnessed since the tsunami of 2011, and business sentiment has fallen to a three year low. The Nikkei has dropped by about 5,000 points from where it was last summer, and some analysts believe that Japanese markets “are being destroyed” due to massive intervention by the Bank of Japan.
Here in the United States, we haven’t been hit quite as hard as the rest of the world just yet, but there are lots of very disturbing warning signs all around us.
At the end of last week, we learned that it is being projected that U.S. GDP will have grown by just 0.1 or 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2016. And on Monday corporate earnings reporting season begins, and it is expected to be a very, very bad one. The following comes from Business Insider…
We are about to get confirmation that earnings growth for America’s biggest companies was negative in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year ago.
When aluminum giant Alcoa releases its results on Monday, it will mark the unofficial start of the heaviest reporting season for S&P 500 companies.
The final scoreboard is expected to show a 9.1% earnings drop for the quarter, according to FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters.
If these projections turn out to be accurate, it will be the fourth quarter in a row of earnings declines. This is something that we never see outside of a recession.
And for a whole bunch more numbers which indicate that the U.S. economy is in very serious trouble, please see my previous article entitled “19 Facts That Prove Things In America Are Worse Than They Were Six Months Ago“.
Of course I am just another voice in the crowd when it comes to predicting that the U.S. economy is headed for rough times. For example, just check out what Societe Generale economist Albert Edwards is saying…
A tidal wave is coming to the US economy, according to Albert Edwards, and when it crashes it’s going to throw the economy into recession.
…the profit recession facing American corporations is going to lead to a collapse in corporate credit.
“Despite risk assets enjoying a few weeks in the sun our fail-safe recession indicator has stopped flashing amber and turned to red”
Whole economy profits never normally fall this deeply without a recession unfolding. And with the US corporate sector up to its eyes in debt, the one asset class to be avoided — even more so than the ridiculously overvalued equity market — is US corporate debt. The economy will surely be swept away by a tidal wave of corporate default.
As you can see, it isn’t just one nation or one region of the world that we need to be concerned about.
Economic chaos is erupting literally all over the planet, and global leaders are starting to panic.
Unfortunately, they have had seven years to try to fix things since the last global recession, and they didn’t get the job done. Anyone that believes that by some miracle they will be able to pull us out of the fire this time and that everything will somehow be okay is simply engaged in wishful thinking.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
Even though the nations of the world are very deeply divided on almost everything else, somehow virtually all of them have been convinced that central banking is the way to go. Today, less than 0.1% of the population of the world lives in a country that does not have a central bank. Do you think that there is any possible way that this is a coincidence? And it is also not a coincidence that we are now facing the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world. In Part I of this series, I discussed the fact that total global debt has reached 217 trillion dollars. Once you understand that central banks are designed to create endless debt, and once you understand that 99.9% of the global population lives in a country that has a central bank, then it finally makes sense why we have accumulated so much debt. The elite of the world use debt as a tool of enslavement, and central banking has allowed them to literally enslave the entire planet.
Some of you may not be familiar with how a “central bank” differs from a normal bank. The following definition of a “central bank” comes from Wikipedia…
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages a state’s currency, money supply, and interest rates. Central banks also usually oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries. In contrast to a commercial bank, a central bank possesses a monopoly on increasing the monetary base in the state, and usually also prints the national currency, which usually serves as the state’s legal tender.
Over the past 100 years or so, we have seen central banks steadily be established all over the planet. At this point, there are just 8 very small nations that still do not have a central bank…
-Federated States of Micronesia
When you add the populations of those 8 nations together, it comes to much less than 0.1% of the global population.
But even though central banking is nearly universal, only a very small fraction of the global population can tell you how money is created.
Do you know where money comes from?
Here in the United States, most people just assume that the federal government creates money. But that is not true at all.
Many are absolutely shocked when they discover that U.S. currency is actually borrowed into existence. The federal government gives U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) to the Federal Reserve in exchange for money that the Federal Reserve creates out of thin air. The Federal Reserve then auctions off those bonds to the highest bidder.
Since the federal government must pay interest on those bonds, the amount of debt that is created in these transactions is actually greater than the amount of money that is created. But we are told that if we can just circulate the money throughout our economy fast enough and tax it at a high enough rate, then we can eventually pay off the debt. Of course that never actually happens, and so the federal government always has to go back and borrow even more money. This is called a debt spiral, and at this point we will never be able to escape it until we do away with this horrible system.
But why does our government (or any government for that matter) have to borrow money that is created by a central bank in the first place?
Why can’t governments just create money themselves?
Oops. That is the big secret that nobody is supposed to talk about.
Theoretically, the U.S. government doesn’t actually have to borrow a single penny. Instead of borrowing money the Federal Reserve creates out of thin air, the federal government could just create money directly and spend it into circulation.
Yes, this could actually happen. Back in 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue debt-free “United States Notes” which were not created by the Federal Reserve. These debt-free notes began to be issued, and you can still find them for sale on eBay today. Unfortunately, President Kennedy was assassinated shortly after this executive order was issued, and the notes were not in production for long.
If we had ultimately fully adopted “United States Notes” and had phased out Federal Reserve notes, we would not be 20 trillion dollars in debt today.
The elite of the world love to get national governments deep into debt, because it enables them to enslave entire populations while making an obscene amount of money in the process.
Back in 1913, an insidious plan was rushed through Congress just before Christmas that was based on a blueprint that had been developed by very powerful Wall Street interests. Author G. Edward Griffin did an extraordinary job of documenting how all of this happened in his book entitled “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve”. A central bank was established, and it was purposely designed to create a government debt spiral, and that is precisely what happened.
Since 1913, the size of the national debt has gotten more than 6,000 times larger, and the value of our dollar has declined by more than 98 percent. Many conservatives are still under the illusion that we could get out of debt someday if we just grow the economy fast enough, but I have shown in another article that we have gotten to the point where this is mathematically impossible.
And most people are also operating under the false assumption that the Federal Reserve is part of the federal government. But that is not accurate either. The following comes from one of my previous articles…
There is often a lot of confusion about the Federal Reserve, because a lot of people think that it is simply an agency of the federal government. But of course that is not true at all. In fact, as Ron Paul likes to say, the Federal Reserve is about as “federal” as Federal Express is.
The Fed is an independent central bank that has even argued in court that it is not an agency of the federal government. Yes, the president appoints the leadership of the Fed, but the Fed and other central banks around the world have always fiercely guarded their “independence”. On the official Fed website, it is admitted that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations”, and they very much operate like private entities. They even issue shares of stock to the private banks that own them.
In case you were wondering, the federal government has zero shares.
According to the U.S. Constitution, a private central banking cartel should not be issuing our currency. In Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution, Congress is solely given the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.
So why in the world has this authority been given to a central bank?
The truth is that we do not need a central bank.
From 1872 to 1913, there was no central bank and no income tax, and it turned out to be the greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history.
But since the Fed was established, there have been 18 different recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.
Abolishing the Federal Reserve is one of the core issues of my platform, and I have been writing about these things for the last seven years.
As I discussed yesterday, the elite use debt to enslave all of the rest of us, and central banking allows them to literally dominate the entire planet.
Until we abolish this debt-based system and go to a currency that is debt-free, we are never going to permanently solve our very deep long-term economic and financial problems.
But because they are so immensely wealthy, the elite are able to wield extraordinary influence in our society. They control the mainstream media, our politicians and even global institutions such as the United Nations. Anyone that would dare to question the validity of the current system is marginalized, and for a long time very few politicians around the world were even willing to speak out against central banking.
However, that is starting to change. A new generation of leaders is rising up, and they are absolutely determined to break the stranglehold that the elite have on our society. It won’t be easy, but if we are able to wake enough people up, I believe that we will eventually be able to free ourselves from this insidious system.
Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.
Since the election there has been this perception among the American public that the economy is improving, but that has not been the case at all. U.S. GDP growth for the first quarter was just revised up to 1.2 percent, but that is even lower than the average growth of just 1.33 percent that we saw over the previous ten years. But when you look even deeper into the numbers a much more alarming picture emerges. Commercial and industrial loan growth is declining, auto loan defaults are rising, bankruptcies are absolutely surging and we are on pace to break the all-time record for most store closings in a single year in the United States by more than 20 percent. All of these are points that I have covered before, but today I have 12 new facts to share with you. The following are 12 signs that the economic slowdown that the experts have been warning about is now here…
#1 According to Challenger, the number of job cuts in May was 71 percent higher than it was in May 2016.
#2 We just witnessed the third worst drop in U.S. construction spending in the last six years.
#3 U.S. manufacturing PMI fell to an 8 month low in May.
#4 Financial stocks have lost all of their gains for the year, and some analysts are saying that this is “a terrible sign”.
#5 One new survey has found that 39 percent of all millionaires “plan to avoid investing in the coming month”. That is the highest that figure has been since December 2013.
#6 Jobless claims just shot up to a five week high of 248,000.
#7 General Motors just reported another sales decline in May, and it is being reported that the company may be preparing for “more job cuts at its American factories”.
#8 After an initial bump after Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, U.S. consumer confidence is starting to fall.
#9 Since Memorial Day, Radio Shack has officially shut down more than 1,000 stores.
#10 Payless has just increased the number of stores that it plans to close to about 800.
#11 According to the Los Angeles Times, it is being projected that 25 percent of all shopping malls in the United States may close within the next five years.
#12 Over the past 12 months, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has risen by a staggering 23 percent.
And in case those numbers have not persuaded you that the U.S. economy is heading for rough times, I would encourage you to go check out my previous article entitled “11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016” for even more eye-popping statistics.
During a bubble, it can feel like the good times are just going to keep rolling forever.
But that never actually happens in reality.
The truth is that we are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble of all time, and the evidence is starting to mount that this debt bubble has just about run its course. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
A recurring theme on this website has been to periodically highlight the tremendous build up in US corporate debt, most recently in April when we showed that “Corporate Debt To EBITDA Hits All Time High.” The relentless debt build up is something which even the IMF recently noted, when in April it released a special report on financial stability, according to which 20% of US corporations were at risk of default should rates rise. It is also the topic of the latest piece by SocGen’s strategist Andrew Lapthorne who uses even more colorful adjectives to describe what has happened since the financial crisis, noting that “the debt build-up during this cycle has been incredible, particularly when compared to the stagnant progression of EBITDA.”
Lapthorne calculates that S&P1500 ex financial net debt has risen by almost $2 trillion in five years, a 150% increase, but this mild in comparison to the tripling of the debt pile in the Russell 2000 in six years. He also notes, as shown he previously, that as a result of this debt surge, interest payments cost the smallest 50% of stocks in the US fully 30% of their EBIT compared with just 10% of profits for the largest 10% and states that “clearly the sensitivity to higher interest rates is then going to be with this smallest 50%, while the dominance and financial strength of the largest 10% disguises this problem in the aggregate index measures.”
The same report noted that net debt growth in the U.S. is quickly headed toward negative territory, and the last time that happened was during the last recession.
We see similar things when we look at the 2nd largest economy on the entire planet. According to Jim Rickards, China “has multiple bubbles, and they’re all getting ready to burst”…
China is in the greatest financial bubble in history. Yet, calling China a bubble does not do justice to the situation. This story has been touched on periodically over the last year.
China has multiple bubbles, and they’re all getting ready to burst. If you make the right moves now, you could be well positioned even as Chinese credit and currency crash and burn.
The first and most obvious bubble is credit. The combined Chinese government and corporate debt-to-equity ratio is over 300-to-1 after hidden liabilities, such as provincial guarantees and shadow banking system liabilities, are taken into account.
We just got the worst Chinese manufacturing number in about a year, and it looks like economic conditions over there are really starting to slow down as well.
Just like 2008, the coming crisis is going to be truly global in scope.
It is funny how our perspective colors our reality. Just like in 2007, many are mocking those that are warning that a crisis is coming, but just like in 2009, after the crisis strikes many will be complaining that nobody warned them in advance about what was ahead.
And at this moment it may seem like we have all the time in the world to get prepared for the approaching storm, but once it is here people will be talking about how it seemed to hit us so quickly.
My hope is that many Americans will finally be fed up with our fundamentally flawed financial system once they realize that we are facing another horrendous economic crisis, and that in the aftermath they will finally be ready for the dramatic solutions that are necessary in order to permanently fix things.
Venezuela and Yemen were both once very prosperous nations, but now parents are literally watching their children starve to death as the economies of both nations continue to utterly collapse. Just like so many here in the United States, most of those living in Venezuela and Yemen would have called you completely crazy if you would have warned them that this was going to happen five years ago. In particular, Venezuela has more proven oil reserves than almost anyone else on the planet, and so to most of their citizens it was unimaginable that things could ever get this bad. But it has happened, and the collapse that has already begun in parts of South America, Africa and the Middle East will soon spread elsewhere.
When I said that children are literally starving to death in Venezuela, I was not exaggerating one bit. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds.
His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash—scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital in Caracas, where she prays a rice-milk concoction keeps her son alive.
“I watched him sleep and sleep, getting weaker, all the time losing weight,” said Ms. Planchart, 34 years old. “I never thought I’d see Venezuela like this.”
What would you do if that was your child?
At one time Venezuela had the brightest outlook out of all the economies in South America, but now their economy has contracted by a total of 27 percent since 2013, imports of food have fallen 70 percent, and the IMF says that the inflation rate will hit a staggering 720 percent this year.
Tonight, in major cities all across Venezuela you will find thousands of people rummaging through garbage looking for food. It has been reported that some citizens have even resorted to eating cats, dogs and pigeons because they are so desperate for something to eat.
According to one survey, among those that said that they lost weight last year, the average amount lost was a staggering 19 pounds. In the United States that would be a good thing, but in a country like Venezuela that is an absolutely catastrophic number.
Meanwhile, thousands of children are starving to death in Yemen as well…
Eyes half open and sunken deep into their sockets, little Jamila Ali Abdu already looked half dead for most of her 12-day stay at the Hodeidah clinic.
Too weak to resist the march of disease and hunger in her war-battered country, the child’s tiny frame was swathed in a bright green shroud and lowered by sobbing relatives into a dusty grave on Tuesday.
The primary cause of the crisis in Yemen is a nightmarish civil war that is not going to end any time soon.
And most Americans don’t realize this, but the U.S. military has contributed to the civil war by conducting airstrikes. It is essentially a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and both sides are absolutely determined to win.
So the suffering in Yemen is only going to intensify, and already a child under the age of five is dying every five minutes…
The United Nations warns that a child under five in Yemen dies around every 10 minutes from preventable causes such as starvation, disease, poor sanitation or lack of medical care.
UN chief Antonio Guterres warned last week of “the starving and the crippling of an entire generation.”
Nearly 17 million of Yemen’s 28 million people are deemed “food insecure” by aid groups – and around SEVEN MILLION do not know where they will get their next meal.
Even though you may not believe it right now, what is happening in Venezuela and Yemen is going to happen in the United States someday as well.
So instead of using this time of relative stability for the U.S. economy to party, I would be using it to prepare.
More than 3,500 retail stores are going to close all across America over the next few months as the worst retail downturn in U.S. history gets even deeper. Earlier this week, Sears shocked the world when it announced that there is “substantial doubt” that the company will be able to “continue as a going concern” much longer. In other words, Sears has announced that it is on the verge of imminent collapse. Meanwhile, Payless stunned the retail industry when it came out that they are preparing to file for bankruptcy. The “retail apocalypse” that I have been warning about is greatly accelerating, and many believe that this is one of the early warning signs that the economic collapse that is already going on in other parts of the globe will soon reach U.S. shores.
I have repeatedly warned my readers that “Sears is going to zero“, and now Sears is officially saying that it might actually happen. When you file official paperwork with the government that says there is “substantial doubt” that the company will survive, that means that the end is very near…
The company that operates Sears, the department store chain that dominated retail for decades, warned Tuesday that it faces “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business unless it can borrow more and tap cash from more of its assets.
“Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Sears Holdings said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sears Holdings operates both Sears and Kmart stores.
In the wake of that statement, the price of Sears stock dipped 13.69% to $7.85 a share.
Personally, I am going to miss Sears very much. But of course the truth is that they simply cannot continue operating as they have been.
For the quarter that ended on January 28th, Sears lost an astounding 607 million dollars…
The company said it lost $607 million, or $5.67 per diluted share, during the quarter that ended on Jan. 28. That compared with a loss of $580 million, or $5.44 per diluted share, a year earlier. It has posted a loss in all but two of the last 24 quarters, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
How in the world is it possible for a retailer to lose that amount of money in just three months?
As I have said before, if they had employees flushing dollar bills down the toilet 24 hours a day they still shouldn’t have losses that big.
This week we also learned that Payless is heading for bankruptcy. According to Bloomberg, the chain is planning to imminently close at least 400 stores…
Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company is initially planning to close 400 to 500 stores as it reorganizes operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. Payless had originally looked to shutter as many as 1,000 locations, and the number may still be in flux, according to one of the people.
Of course these are just two examples of a much broader phenomenon.
Never before in U.S. history have we seen such a dramatic wave of store closures. According to Business Insider, over 3,500 retail locations “are expected to close in the next couple of months”…
Thousands of mall-based stores are shutting down in what’s fast becoming one of the biggest waves of retail closures in decades.
More than 3,500 stores are expected to close in the next couple of months.
Once thriving shopping malls are rapidly being transformed into ghost towns. As I wrote about just recently, “you might be tempted to think that ‘Space Available’ was the hottest new retail chain in the entire country.”
The demise of Sears is going to be an absolute nightmare for many mall owners. Once “anchor stores” start closing, it is usually only a matter of time before smaller stores start bailing out…
When an anchor store like Sears or Macy’s closes, it often triggers a downward spiral in performance for shopping malls.
Not only do the malls lose the income and shopper traffic from that store’s business, but the closure often triggers “co-tenancy clauses” that allow the other mall tenants to terminate their leases or renegotiate the terms, typically with a period of lower rents, until another retailer moves into the anchor space.
Years ago I wrote of a time when we would see boarded-up storefronts all across America, and now it is happening.
Instead of asking which retailers are going to close, perhaps we should be asking which ones are going to survive this retail cataclysm.
In the past, you could always count on middle class U.S. consumers to save the day, but today the middle class is steadily shrinking and U.S. consumers are increasingly tapped out.
For instance, just look at what is happening to delinquency rates on auto loans…
US auto loan and lease credit loss rates weakened in the second half of 2016, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings, which said they will continue to deteriorate.
“Subprime credit losses are accelerating faster than the prime segment, and this trend is likely to continue as a result of looser underwriting standards by lenders in recent years,” said Michael Taiano, a director at Fitch.
The last time so many Americans got behind on subprime auto loans was during the last financial crisis.
We are seeing so many similarities to what happened just prior to the last recession, and yet most Americans still seem to think that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine in 2017.
Unfortunately, major red flags are popping up in the hard economic numbers and in the financial markets.
The last recession probably should have started back in late 2015, but thanks to manipulation by the Fed and an unprecedented debt binge by the Obama administration, official U.S. GDP growth has been able to stay barely above zero for the last year and a half.
But just because something is delayed does not mean that it is canceled.
All along, our long-term economic imbalances have continued to get even worse, and a date with destiny is rapidly approaching for the U.S. economy.
We always knew that this would start happening. Earlier this month, I wrote about the severe economic problems that are plaguing South America, but up to this point I have neglected to discuss the horrific famines that are breaking out all over Africa. Right now there is a desperate need for food in South Sudan, Somalia, northeast Nigeria, Eritrea and Kenya. And Yemen, even though it is not technically part of Africa, is being affected by many of the same factors that are crippling nations all over eastern Africa. The United Nations says that more than 20 million people could die from starvation and disease if nothing is done. When I write about economic collapse, this is the kind of thing that I am talking about, and we are starting to see alarming conditions spread across the globe. Many believe that we could never possibly face this kind of food crisis in the western world, but unfortunately wishful thinking will only get you so far.
The United Nations was formed in 1945, and the UN has just announced that what we are facing this year is “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN”. The following comes from a CNN article entitled “20 million at risk of starvation in world’s largest crisis since 1945, UN says“…
“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said Friday.
“Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.”
It would be hard to overstate the level of human suffering that we are witnessing in many parts of Africa at this moment. In Somalia, the UN estimates that more than 6 million people are in desperate need of food aid…
As Somalia inches closer to a calamitous famine, the prospect of utter devastation and colossal loss of human life is once again becoming an imminent reality. The humanitarian situation in Somalia is deteriorating by the day with up to 6.2 million people in need of urgent aid. People across Somalia have been forced to walk hundreds of miles in search of food, water and shelter- with women and children disproportionately affected. Over 300,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished, with over 200,000 more children at risk of acute malnutrition.
In South Sudan, close to half the population is in dire need of assistance, and things have gotten so bad there that people will literally eat grass if they can find it…
Across South Sudan more than one million children are believed to be acutely malnourished and UNICEF have said that if urgent aid does not reach them, many of them will die. “There is no food, we eat anything we can find,” one South Sudanese mother told ITV. “We will find grass, we will eat it. That’s just the way it us for us now.”
Over in Yemen, there are about seven million people in need of food help, and authorities are warning that if nothing is done “millions of children” could starve to death…
“The numbers affected are absolutely extraordinary,” said Mark Kaye, Save the Children’s Yemen spokesperson.
“We keep on talking about a country that’s on the brink of famine, but for me these numbers highlight that we’re at the point of no return. If things are not done now we are going to be looking back on this and millions of children will have starved to death, and we’ll all have been aware of this for some time. That will shame us as an international community for years to come.
Eritrea was not specifically included in the recent UN alert, but it should have been. Much of the country has been hit by a crippling drought, and approximately half of all children in Eritrea are stunted…
But we cannot understand why Eritrea is not included in the appeal. Unicef has confirmed what we know from our friends and families inside the country. In a report in January, the agency said that the El Niño drought has hit half of all Eritrea’s regions. Acute malnutrition is widespread. As Unicef put it: “Malnutrition rates already exceeded emergency levels, with 22,700 children under five projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2017 … Half of all children in Eritrea are stunted, and as a result, these children are even more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease outbreaks.”
We have been warned that there would be famines in diverse places in these times. But here in the western world we tend to be lulled into a false sense of security by our comfortable lives, not realizing that the massively inflated standard of living that we have been enjoying has been fueled by the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet.
In Kenya, a national emergency has been declared due to drought and famine. For those of you that are parents, what would you do if your children were crying out for food but you didn’t have anything to give them? The following story from Kenya is beyond heartbreaking…
Emmanuel Ayapar is three years old and can no longer walk. The flesh on his legs, which dangle from his mother’s hip as she carries him around, is wasting away.
He seems listless and sad, tongue flicking repeatedly in and out of his mouth.
‘We do not have enough food,’ said Veronica, his 28-year-old mother. ‘We eat only once a day.’
The little boy is suffering from severe malnutrition and is at risk of starving to death. He weighs just 15lb – half the typical weight for a boy of his age.
I don’t even know what to say after that.
In the western world we can be so incredibly self-absorbed that we don’t even realize that children are literally starving to death on the other side of the planet.
Hopefully those of us that live in “wealthy” western countries will step up to the plate and aid those in need, and hopefully this crisis will also help us to understand that we need to prepare for the day when things get difficult in our own nations too.